Tag Archives: renovations

Double Sinks in the Master Bath – Must We Have Them? Really? Part I

Double Sinks in the Master Bath

Double Sinks in the Master Bath

Two Sinks: Now standard in new construction for Master Baths.   It’s another “must have” shown on the real estate shows.  Having previously written about the “Open Floor Plan” a commenter suggested I  discuss other popular real estate “must have” amenities.   There are  many, from walk-in closets,  stainless steel appliances, and granite counter tops.    But here I’ll address Two Sinks in the Master Bath.   People just have to have these, according to many of the House Hunters couples on HGTV.   Some of these HGTV couples are so disappointed when the master bath doesn’t have two sinks, it’s a deal-breaker.  By the way, HGTV does a good job of showing same-sex couples on their shows, but the two sink thing seems to be proffered has a heterosexual couple “must have.”  I’ll address it in kind.

From what I understand, these are the reasons why this is so popular:

1.  We can get ready together in the morning! 

2.  I don’t have to deal with his/her mess in the sink, I’ll have my very own sink!  

3.  His and her sinks in the Master Bath means “I’ve Arrived!”     

Yeah, okay.  I get it.  I really do, but I’m not sure that requiring two sinks in the master bath  is the best use of construction dollars or should be a deal-breaker.

1.  We can get ready together in the morning! 

Oh, that’s cute, but think about it.  In this world when everybody has personal devices for everything, when people don’t share cars or phones or computers or even closets, why are high-end houses still designed so that a couple can share a bathroom in the morning?   The whole point, from what I understand, is that couples can both be brushing their teeth or whatever at the same time.  Really?   In a large home, especially a home that is new construction, or one that carries a price tag that starting at over a half a million dollars, or one  where each child, nanny, and guest has his/her own bathroom, why are the husband and wife supposed to brush, rinse, spit, and floss together?  Not to mention pluck, shave, or otherwise groom.  I don’t care what you say, HGTV, but most husbands and wives are not going to openly share their nasal maintenance.    And though I’m not completely sure what men do in the bathroom, I’m reasonably sure I don’t need to see it.

Let’s face it:  regardless of the existence of two sinks, some things will be done behind the closed bathroom door while the spouse is elsewhere — anywhere — but standing at the adjacent sink.

And for those couples who are completely comfortable sharing bathroom activities with each other?  They don’t need two sinks.

2.  I don’t have to deal with his/her mess in the sink.  I’ll have my very own sink!  

Even when couples won’t use the bathroom as the same time, they want their own space.   As I’ve heard repeatedly on HGTV, this breaks down to two concerns:

a.  Women want/need space for all their skin, hair, make-up products.

Carrie's bathroom in Sex and The City

Carrie’s bathroom in Sex and The City

b.  Men leave shaving stubble in the sink, and women don’t like to see it, clean it or use a sink with said shaving stubble.

Dude shaving.  I honestly don't see a problem with seeing this in my bathroom, but I digress . . .

Dude shaving. I honestly don’t see a problem with seeing this in my bathroom, but I digress . . .

Alrighty then.   Having two sinks will create two separate areas for two different kinds of messes, right next to each other. His and her sinks?  His and her mess.

Ew.  (Doesn’t anybody clean?)

I think we can safely say that both a man and a woman have the potential for leaving a mess in the bathroom.  Given  blow drying and flat-ironing of long hair, the skin and make-up products, it seems like the women would be more likely to be the slobs in the bathroom sink area, though on HGTV they are usually the ones to complain.    The complaint about the man’s mess seems to be mostly about shaving stubble.  It appears HGTV women are very put out about seeing shaving stubble in the sink.   Does having two sinks make it better?  Not really.   I doubt that the woman who is really bothered by the sight of beard stubble will be able to enjoy her adjacent sink  within view of said beard stubble.  Again, isn’t somebody going to clean the bathroom?

Anybody?

Having two sinks will only ensure that one is always surrounded by woman’s  mess/stuff and the other will be surrounded by a man’s mess/stuff.

Still, somebody will have to see and wash up next to the other person’s mess — and now there are two sinks to clean — or not.  It’s kind of like the Hoarder who, instead of throwing stuff out, simply rents a storage unit.

But I get it.  It’s a perk.

3.  His and her sinks in the Master Bath means “I’ve Arrived!”   (I really think this is the true reason why couples crave the two sinks.)  

But . . .  

a.  Not everyone is in a couple.

Yes, you’ve arrived, but uh  —  not all adults are coupled up.  Sometimes you arrive all by yourself (pun not intended — well, maybe a little).  It’s not always a his/her, his/his or her/her situation.  Sometimes it’s Just Me . . . heh heh heh.  I remember a scene from the movie “It’s Complicated” where the main character, a divorced woman, was redoing her bathroom and wanted to get rid of the second sink. It was just a daily reminder that she had no partner, which she was okay with, but the sinks apparently were not.    My single sister has a two sink master bathroom that came with her newer construction home.  She uses one sink, and the other holds her curling iron.  Seems a waste.

Two sinks in the Master Bath are just kind of stupid for single people, and a bit insulting.  I can almost see the existence of two sinks being a deal-breaker for a single person.    And if  person becomes single after having insisted on the double sinks?   Might as well tile “Failed Relationship” on the back splash.

b.  Not everyone aspires to be in a couple.

Having a second sink when single might invite a relationship where one is not welcome.   Remember vintage Barney in “How I Met Your Mother”?   When giving Lily the tour of his Fortress of Barnitude, he explained,  “I make it crystal clear to every girl who walks in here that this is not the place to leave a toothbrush, this is not the place to leave a contact lens case, this is a place — to leave.”   I mean, the guy has a king size bed with only a full size blanket and just one pillow.   As to the bathroom, Barney added,  “What? Only one towel?  What? No hair dryer?  You know where I keep that stuff?  Your place.  Beat it.”   Clearly, the Master (or Lady) of the house does not always have or welcome a guest planning to stay long enough to warrant a second sink.   Nope.  As Barney said, sometimes a person wants his or her home to say,  “Our work here is done.”

Barney's Bedroom in

Barney’s Bedroom in “How I Met Your Mother” Season 2. Barney would never stand for two sinks. Never.

The Solution? 

I know I can be a rebel, but I think that what I think people really want is  — wait for it —— their very own bathroom!

Why stop at the sinks?   I mean, if you’re loading down a house with all the must have stuff let’s go all the way —  I’m talking his and her separate, private bathrooms!   In the old days, many of the very wealthy couples had his and her bathrooms.  Let’s extend the royal treatment to suburban McMansions.

New Construction

You hear that, new construction designers?   You wouldn’t necessarily need that much more room, depending on the design and a bit of creativity.  Some of these high end master bedrooms have a separate seating area and his or her walk-in closets.  If there is space for all that, they could design his and her bathrooms, especially in those palatial homes and possibly even in more moderate homes.   It’s funny in these houses with every amenity imaginable and  the cars get their own room and guests have their own suites, can’t the Lady and Lord of the house brush their teeth alone?     And I’d bet it would be a huge selling point.  Huge.

Sunny Von Bulow's private bath, as depicted in the film,

Sunny Von Bulow’s private bath, as depicted in the film, “Reversal of Fortune.” Mr. Von Bulow described it as her sanctuary. She’d spend hours in there, especially after being drugged with insulin . . . but I digress.

Even for singles, we can keep that second bathroom on lock down and not within view, and only a privileged few could earn a key to this “executive washroom.”  It would be a “special guest” bath.  As an added bonus, it would serve a dual function of keeping  our guests the heck out of our stuff.   “No, I’m sorry, honey, you use that bathroom.”  heh heh heh

But I get it.  For most of us regular folk there might not be space for two completely separate baths connected to the master bedroom.

I’ll offer  another, less radical, suggestion.  When remodeling or buying new construction or house shopping, consider having only one sink in the Master Bath,  make the assumption that a couple will not actually be in the bathroom together, or if they are, they are not both using the sink at the same time.   Instead, use the money saved to install a larger, easy to clean counter space, creating an area that can accommodate all the products with great lighting and plenty of mirrors.   Or, better yet,  design personalized storage for all of those products and hair appliances so they can be used and put away (or left out)  while still hot.   And that one sink?  Make it and the  counter easy to wipe clean of the shaving stubble,  you could or even install a sprayer.    (Or get a maid.)

Let’s put a second (or third) sink where it belongs —  in the hall (children’s) bath.  It always amazes me when this is missing in a space that would allow it, especially in homes that are meant to accommodate more than one child.   It’s kids that  brush their teeth together while another small child is sitting on the toilet.   Kids aren’t concerned about modesty, have less products and consequently less need for counter space.   But trust me, you want them washing those grubby hands.  Any preschool teacher or parent will tell you kids tend to wash better and brush teeth longer with a buddy.   So let the kids live dorm style.  Just teach them to clean the sinks, all of them!

Aw, let the kids wash up together!

Aw, let the kids wash up together!

Just Me With . . . no master bath at all, so I’m talking, excuse my expression,  — out of my ass.   We are a family of six sharing one bathroom.  I would love to have another sink — anywhere!

Many thanks to the commenter David Travers, who inspired this post, and to HGTV, a channel that I watch, enjoy, and criticize frequently.

Maybe I’m just jealous.

See also:

Double Sinks in the Master Bath, Part II

An Argument Against the Open Floor Plan

and How to Unclog a Toilet While Under Sedation

Paint, Interrupted — a DIY Surrender

I’m getting my house painted this week. I know I’ve written about painting it myself, describing how That Hoarders Smell  inside the house was so bad that it engulfed me even while I was painting outside.  So yeah, I painted the house already.

But I never finished.

I painted the front under the porch.  Then I stood on the porch roof to paint the second floor.  And, along with my nephew, I perched on scaffolding temporarily left by another contractor as I prepped, primed and painted the back of the house.

That left the sides, where the paint was peeling so badly  that barely brushing by it caused a snow flurry of dirty paint flakes, some big, some small, some lead-based, some not.

This is actually how Creepy Neighbor No.1’s House looks now. Mine was similar, worse.

So although usually one preps, primes and paints from the top down, I started from the bottom up, reasoning that since we were about to move into this house I didn’t want the children to be exposed to this peeling paint at eye level. The upper floors weren’t peeling or flaking as badly as the lower level and at least no one would be touching it.  So, for safety’s sake I tackled the first floor.   Well, safety and the fact that I could reach the lower level and paint it myself without scaffolding or big ladders that I didn’t own.

The top side sections, however,  have not been prepped, primed, or painted.

It’s tacky.  It’s been this way for over two years.

Two Toned Home

I had every intention of painting the rest of the house myself. A contractor friend even lent me some scaffolding and we put it up on one side of the house.  Then, well, stuff happened, and  I  changed and  eventually went off my meds, which gave me vertigo, poor equilibrium, extreme dizziness, and severe sensitivity to light.  I couldn’t even think about doing  it then.   My friend eventually took his scaffolding back, unused.

Since then I have struggled with my half-painted house. I struggled to find the energy to paint my house, struggled to find the motivation and money, struggled to conquer my newly developed fear of heights, that I will fall and lay broken and bleeding in my yard —and no one will know.

I’ve struggled.

And, I lost my Mojo.  I’d done so much work on this little Hoarders house. I’d tried to make it nice.  I did make it nice. But recently I’ve been feeling that no matter what I do to this house, which sits on a busy street and backs up onto the perimeter of an poor neighborhood, it will always be compared to the much larger marital home situated in a park-like setting. I don’t miss that home at all,  and selling that home was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made — that decision may be a subject of another post — but I don’t love where we are now, I tried . . .

  • I installed a stone patio and fire-pit for us to enjoy — that no one uses.
  • I partially finished the basement so that we’d have a place for the drums and could jam — but no one does.
  • I made a music room for lessons for students that are fewer and fewer in number each year.
  • I planted shrubs to give us some privacy — that died.
  • I bought a shed to house bicycles — that nobody rides.

But. . .  I never finished painting the house.  Perhaps part of me became comfortable with my half painted house. Maybe it was some sort of  admission of defeat.   The move been an adjustment, a difficult adjustment.  I’m not going pretend otherwise —  anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of my accomplishments with respect to this home and my family. I’m happy that we have a roof over our heads and that the kids didn’t have to change schools — which was the reason why I bought the little hoarders home in the first place.   And I know things could be a lot worse, and that things aren’t really that bad, or really bad at all.

Still, the unfinished paint job screams that there are still struggles in this home.

Anyone looking at it would  ask,

“Cute house.  But when is she going to finish painting it?”

Well, the answer is “Now.”  I’m borrowing from Peter to pay Paul to pay some Painters that gave me a good deal because one of my “Friends Without Benefits” told them to.

I’m waving the white flag in surrender.  I  will not finish painting the house myself.  But I will not  leave it partially  unpainted for another year as a shrine to my  failure to renovate our way into happiness —  or the land of denial.  I’ve got to think of resale value and protect my investment.  So, I’ve called in the professionals.

It is what it is.  And it has to get done.   At least it won’t look tacky anymore.

“Maybe it will lift my spirits,” I thought, as I’ve been feeling a bit blue lately.

And then, the universe threw me a bone.

The painters here are very nice guys.  Just now one of them stopped me and said,

“I don’t want you to get a big head or anything, but I gotta tell you . . .   you look just like Halle Berry.  Hasn’t anyone ever told you that?  Mike (the other painter) said it yesterday, too.  I’m a movie buff, so I would know.” 

Halle Berry or it is me? Ha ha!!

I have to say, I’m starting to feel a lot better about hiring these guys to paint my house.  A lot better.

Just Me With . . . a paint job in progress, in butter cream with hunter green trim, done expertly  by — my new best friends.

Postscript:   The painting is finished.  The house looks great, it really does, and just in time for Winter.

Sadly, one of my kids informed me that her friends told her that they aren’t allowed to come to our neighborhood, for fear they might get mugged.

Whatever.

 

That Hoarders Smell

This Room Became My Girls’ Bedroom

The house I bought was not as bad as some of the houses you see on Hoarders, at least the whole house wasn’t.   But the third floor attic bedroom was as bad as those hoarders’ houses.  This is where the man who I call PissMan, his girlfriend and their cat (sans litter box) stayed.  The cat just relieved itself on all the stuff up there — clothes, cardboard boxes, etc.  I needed this room to be a bedroom for two of my kids.  It had to be completely transformed.

The master bedroom that became my room was the second worst. That is where the family matriarch stayed until she was confined to a hospital bed downstairs, and eventually passed away.  See What Happened In My House? Murder?   It was in  this room where at least one cat was confined with a litter box, sans litter.   This cat threw up a lot on the old hardwood floor.  Nobody cleaned it up.  Old hardwood floors –150 year old unmaintained hardwood floors–  have many cracks, they do not have thick coats of Polyurethane to repel liquid.  They act as sponges, soaking up whatever is dropped on them.  Cat urine, feces, canned food and cigarette ashes had been dropped on them and left there in the Summer months, with no air conditioning or adequate ventilation.

Enough said.

This house had been a house of smokers for many, many years.  The walls and ceilings had once been white but had turned a brownish-yellow.  So, underneath all of the animal and human excrement smells was the smell of years of cigarette smoke.  In addition, there had been some water damage in some of the rooms.

Notice the rug.

This added another smell —  wet plaster, wet rugs and mold.   Hmmm Hmmm Good!

Some rooms were worse than others as far as the hoard goes, but the whole house stunk.  The smell was bad, really bad.  It was so bad that I could smell it from the outside, while I was on the porch roof painting the exterior of the house with oil based paint.

Imagine — a beautiful  Spring day, being up high in the sunshine — flowers blooming, birds singing — yet I could still smell the inside of the house — and it was enough to make me nauseous —  and seriously question my decision to purchase that house.  What was I thinking?   (Well, I was thinking I had to move, I wanted to keep the kids in the same schools, and with five children and no money I had very little choice . . . but I digress . . . )

Paint fumes?  Not a problem.  Fumes from in the house?  Problem.

The smell is difficult to describe, but  I’ll try.   You know when a smell is so pungent that you begin to taste it?    Have you ever smelled a diaper after days in the trash, or after it has gotten wet?   Are you familiar with that  neglected service station bathroom smell?    Cat urine?  A litter box that hasn’t been  cleaned in  — months?  Well, that shouldn’t happen, but just imagine.  Adult human urine and feces?   Has anyone ever let milk or cream go bad — like until it gets lumpy? Let’s see what else — food.  The family cooked in a kitchen with absolutely no ventilation.   Oh yeah, and soap.  These people washed, but the usually comforting smell of soap just added to the soup of nastiness.  The home’s overall smell was sour and sweet and nauseating, stronger in some areas yet pervasively throughout everything.

It was nasty.

Eventually, however, the family who had lived there for four generations, left.   Five people,  two cats –at the time (previously there had been many more cats, I’m told, and various other pets.  The mom/grandmother loved her animals.  See Accidental Exhumation;  Be Careful For What You Dig For) plus  human urine, feces, trash, piss soaked carpet remnants  — all gone, though not in one trip.

Finally, the only thing left was their security deposit.   Given the items they tried to leave me,  i.e.  bottles of urine, and various other debris including used adult diapers and crack, yeah, I kept their money.

So they were gone.   Their stuff was gone.

The odor, however, remained — not surprising considering all the piss bottles and all.    See Piss, Puke and Porn.

The Obligatory Piss Picture

Damn, thinking back on all of this.  I can almost taste that smell again.   Ew.  

Anyway, the following is my public service announcement and my personal account of  how I got rid of   . . .

That Hoarders Smell:

Walls:

Hard scrubbed with good old-fashioned Pine Sol, barely diluted,  rinsed and wiped down with water, repeat.  Repeat until   layers of dirt and smoke were removed.  Spackle, sand.

Primed with oil-based primer.  This is the kind you cannot wash off with soap and water.  This is the hard stuff.  If you get it on your clothes, they are ruined.   If you get it on your skin or hair,   either suffer through washing with turpentine or paint remover, or wait until it wears off on its own.  The oil-based smell is strong.  A mask is required for safety.   Given the smells I was trying to eradicate, I welcomed the chemical smell of the paint, though, I admit.

Paint.  I bought the thickest (and unfortunately the most expensive) paint I could find.  Paint, repeat.  The walls  and ceilings required two coats of paint to deal with the smell and smoke stains.

Floors:

Scrape the cat feces and vomit, and tape residue (they used tape for many repairs),

Sand the floors (some floors I had professionally sanded, but taking off a layer of floor did not, unfortunately, take away the smell, it some areas it made it worse).

Seal the floor (and odors) by painting with oil based floor paint.  (The floors were in pretty bad shape, staining and them and covering them with clear polyurethane probably still would not make them look good, plus there was a time issue, since we had to move in immediately and therefore needed to be able to walk on the floors right away.)

All in all, smell removal was a huge process.     Though it was nice to choose wall colors for my new digs, my painting of every surface of the house had very little to do with decor.   No, my painting  had to do with odor control.  It had to be done.

Not surprisingly, now  I enjoy watching the show Hoarders on A&E, though I had never heard of it when I was cleaning  my house.   Watching now I’m never surprised when those Hoarders houses  get a fresh coat of paint.  It’s not a makeover, it’s a smellover.

Now?   Now my house smells good.  But it’s a freaking miracle.  A miracle brought about  by hard work and some angels, very extremely cool people who volunteered to help me.  A post dedicated to these folks is forthcoming.

Just Me With . . . no more smell, and  a sudden urge to clean.

Related, Goodbye Hoarders  — The television show Hoarders has been cancelled.

One of my daughters wants a cat.   I have nothing against cats, but after going through what I did to clean this house, I can’t do it.  I just can’t.  I don’t want to smell a litter box, even just to clean it.

Piss, Puke, and Porn

This is not my house, but it’s similar to mine.

Piss, Puke and Porn.   Ahhh, my new house.   Just Me and the Kids  had been living in the very large marital home since the Husband moved out.  I couldn’t afford it.  I couldn’t take care of it.   But I have five big kids so it’s not like I could hole up in a one bedroom apartment. Plus,  the kids and I loved their schools and I did not want them to have to change, for academic and emotional reasons.   So, I bought this little house because I could make the bedrooms work and my kids could go to the same schools.   But the house was in deplorable condition (which is how I could afford it).   The people living there had owned the house for generations but had done no maintenance.   Plus, they were sick and poor.   The house looked like it should have been condemned.  Actually the back part of it was condemned and had to be demolished.

I couldn’t even tell the kids about the house because it looked so bad it would have been too traumatic for them.   We drove by it every day and the kids had no idea.   The prior owners rented it back from me for 6 months and I worked on the outside of it when the kids were in school so that it wouldn’t look so bad.

Meanwhile, the marital home finally sold.   I would have two weeks from the time the prior owners/renters left the new old house before I had to move  the kids and I there.   The prior owners were heavy smokers, and I say this with no judgment, just the facts — nasty.     I knew that I would be undertaking an extreme makeover but . . .

I get that it was a tough move for the prior owners.  Their family had lived there for over 60 years.   I stopped by on move out night and they asked if they could leave a couple of boxes to pick up the next day.   Sure, I said, because I’m nice that way.   But when I went over there the next day and could see what was left in broad daylight, it made me sick.

These people kept cats but did not take care of them.   They left me litter boxes with cat poop and no kitty litter.   The boxes merely had newspaper lining the bottom of the pan.   They also left used wet cat food cans.   This was late Spring, people.   Temps were in the 80’s and rising.  Also, there was cat poop that didn’t make the cat box at all.   They had apparently kept a cat locked up in what would become my room.   The cat had yacked numerous times and they hadn’t cleaned it up.   It took a paint scraper to get it up the big chunks and later a full sanding of the hardwood floors.  See, That Hoarders Smell   Not to mention the cat urine which had soaked into the floors and the wet cat food in there  — the smell was indescribable.

But the third floor attic bedroom was even worse.    A grown man (like in his 40’s)  and his girlfriend had lived up there — like hoarders.  The side of the attic which was used for “storage” had clothes and debris thrown over there, not in boxes, not in bags, and another cat had free rein up there.   Think about it.   The storage area was nothing but a big litter box.

Do you see the cat?

Anyway, after the move out there were some boxes and debris left there.  Well, okay, I thought, they said they’d leave some things and be back to get them.  But I had to inspect the property anyway and start to clean.   I had to.

This is what I found:   bags of trash, well, actually garbage, including used tissues and vintage porn with sticky pages,   more cat poop and litter boxes without litter,  an adult diaper (used), little green baggies (which I’m told was crack),   and, 2-liter soda bottles — a lot of them strewn about, in boxes, under debris, etc.   These soda bottles were not empty —  but no soda, either  —

I found approximately fifty 2 liter bottles of HUMAN PISS!

The Piss Collection

Part Of The Piss Collection

No wonder the house smelled so bad!   Understand that the bathroom was always in working order.  Understand that the guy who lived up there, though collecting disability, was not immobile —  he could walk,  climb stairs, etc.  and was not developmentally disabled to the point that he was incontinent.   In other words,  he was capable of carrying his lazy ass to the bathroom and knew that’s where people are supposed to urinate!    Understand also that  he had a girlfriend who must have allowed this!!!!  (What kind of woman would . . . ??????)   Let me say it again — 50 bottles of human piss — in my new house.   I knew I’d have to do major renovations, but piss  removal?

Thank goodness the kids weren’t with me when I made this discovery.  Even my therapist said she’d never heard of anything like this.  (This was before the show Hoarders was so popular.)    I stopped looking through stuff.  My daughters’ future bedroom was a toilet, literally.   And people, this was an attic bedroom — in June!   It was ten degrees hotter up there than outside.    It was nauseating.   Truly.  And I was going to move my kids in this house in a matter of days.  Looking back on it I still shudder.  Yeah, I’ve been through some crap . . . and piss.

Just Me With . . .  50 Bottles of Piss in My House, 50  Bottles of Piss . . .

For another urine story, see “Toilet or Kitchen Sink — Who Can Tell?